The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) says that New York City property owners could save $150 million a year and reduce the effects of climate change by doing one simple thing. Environmental experts and financial analysts agree that making energy-efficiency upgrades to steam heating systems, which warm the majority of apartments in the city, could make a huge difference. By battling banging pipes and sealing up drafts, individual property owners can hit two birds with one stone: reducing carbon emissions to help the city meet its sustainability goals while drastically cutting utility costs by increasing efficiency.
Buildings are the single largest source of climate pollution in the city, and in most cases, heating and cooling systems consume most of the energy used in a building. Upgrading to more energy-efficient systems is a clear path to reducing not only the amount of energy consumed, but also the emissions resulting from the heating system. Because of the number of buildings in the city with steam heating systems in place, improvements would have an enormous impact on Mayor de Blasio’s sustainability goals for the city, which include an 80-percent cut in pollution by 2050.
The NRDC’s report details specific recommendations for building owners to maximize efficiency upgrades. NRDC and its partners calculate that making the steam heat fixes recommended in the paper, without making any other changes, would cut more than 300,000 tons of CO2, which is equal to the amount of pollution generated by more than 65,000 cars. Fixing old steam heat systems could even make the city a more enjoyable place to live, because efficiency upgrades would reduce noise pollution from the heaters, giving occupants a little more peace and quiet.